Florianopolis, Brazil

Florianopolis Travel Blog

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Wow!  What else is there to say about this place?  We arrived on Saturday in Floripa after dusk and were unable to witness all that the countryside has to offer until the next morning.  Sunday we awoke to a beautiful morning where we all went on a tour to see the different parts of the island.

Our first stop was at a little look out on top of one of the mountains.  It had a wonderful view of our side of Florianopolis.  Next we visited the center of the town where there were many large and different trees than I was used to.  One of our guides told us that a local soccer team had been named after one of these trees.  He also said that when you got married it was tradition to have to run 3 times around another tree.  Then we traveled to my favorite spot of the whole tour.

We drove for a bit and arrived at a little road where we parked and walked on a path towards the fort we came to see.  As we turned the corner we saw the fort and a fantastic view from atop the hill of the other of the island.  This was my favorite view.  I witnessed something that I had only seen in movies, magazines and on television.  I began to take many photographs and then noticed one of my classmates heading down a path towards the rocks jutting out into the water.  We traveled down the path to the edge of the water and climbed out onto these enormous boulders.  This scene was gorgeous and allowed me to see further around the coast and allowed for a better view of the fort.

Another stop on the tour was to the site where you could see the first bridge that connects Florianopolis to mainland Brazil.  We saw the renovated bridge and the other, less attractive bridge here.  This was yet another amazing sight on our tour.

Then we headed towards another beach.  Here we saw wind surfers and the sand dunes where you can sand surf (which we plan to do in the very near future).  The beach was amazing and had great waves for regular surfing as well.  This concluded our island tour and we then headed back to our pousada.

Florianopolis is a wonderful beach town that is a hot spot for Argentine vacationers.  I can see why.  This is my first time anywhere in Brazil and it is certain to be one the most memorable.

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Now that I have arrived in neighboring Brazil, I feel that I can look back and summarize my overall experiences with football during my stay in Argentina.  While there I was able to go to one Boca Juniors game, watch the Arsenal vs. Barcelona game, see the national team practice game, visit many different stadiums and witness how many Argentines share in the experiences of the game.  I spoke with many locals about their feelings about soccer and how they followed their favorite teams and their rivals.  With the world cup in full swing I have began to recount how I saw the Argentines support and cheer for their national team as they traveled to Germany.

Gabriel told us that when Argentines watch the national team play that they suffer during the entire game.  He also told us that we would love Brazilians because they would sing and dance during their games.  Although I think he may have embellished somewhat, I do feel an uneasiness around Argentineans about their fate in the world cup.  This comes unexpectedly because they were in full control of their first game where they won 2-1.  Argentina has always been a football powerhouse and will likely continue to be one for a long time to come.

However, given their possible woes about their team I did see a lot of support for the national team.  All across Buenos Aires and in Mendoza I saw many billboards, advertisements, signs and Argentine flags supporting their country's upcoming effort in the world cup.  I even noticed on the way to the airport that some electronic street signs said "Vamos Argentina!"  Also, on the flight over the score of their game was announced on the plane and it erupted into claps and cheers.  This may have come from a sigh of relief when they could tangibly realize how good their national team was.

I feel as though Argentina has every reason to be confident in their national team and that they as good of chance as any to win the world cup in 2006.  I know the importance of football in their country after visiting the various clubs where children learn the game at very early ages.  I have seen it played in the streets and witnessed football being watched and discussed in bars and on street corners.  Argentine football still maintains a specific and unique aura around it at least in how the country experiences and shares sentiments over their participation in international play.  Gabriel should cheer up and enjoy the many successes of his country's team because Argentina should relish in its accomplishments, rich history and uniqueness in football.

After viewing the Bus 174 documentary in Argentina I have undergone mixed emotions over the entire scenario, especially since our arrival in Florianopolis, Brazil.  I feel as though the video was extremely well done, as it was one of the most unbiased documentaries I have ever seen.  The director accurately showed both sides of the story while not boosting one more than the other.  It would seem that the film leads you to blame all parties involved and to see the many problems that face the police units and jail system in Brazil.

Now, given such a delicate situation there are many emotions that one experiences while witnessing the events unfolding.  It was apparent from the very beginning of the documentary that the outcome would not be a pleasant one: most hostage situations do not.  This raised a tremendously difficult question that was posed to the entire class and other watching the film:  Would you shoot the hostage taker on the bus when given the opportunity?  I was very interested to that everyone in the class raised their hand as proponents for this course of action over the situation if they were in charge.  I was the only person in the entire class who would have sought other means of dealing with bus 174.

For me, this raised concern over the ability to easily dispense with someone's life.  That is too difficult of a question for me to answer, even if it was only a hypothetical one.  I also know that it is much easier to say that you could undertake this action than it would be to perform it yourself in reality.  All I hope is that I am never faced with such a decision at any point in my life.

For Brazil, this documentary showed the many faults in the police and prison system, as well as, the large problem of the societal shifts towards violent behavior in the poor outskirts of the city; the favellas.  It is clear that many, if not all, jails in Brazil need to be changed to meet human rights at bear minimum.  Also, corruption within the police needs to be addressed.  The police also need to be better trained and the overall consensus of being a police officer needs to be dealt with.

 

(Group:  Hannah, JB & Ryan)

Currently, Argentina is experiencing an impressive economic boom.  Since the collapse in 2002 the country has bolstered record GDP growth rates.  As an investor from the United States, one must understand the many possible benefits and risks associated with investments in Argentina’s economy.

 

In our plan we will present various options for investment in the different industries and the expectations for each plan.  Given the nature of the Argentine economy, there will be multiple levels of investment that will produce an assortment of returns and return times.

 

Firstly, the booming commodity market consists of many short-term investments. There are two major commodities that are doing very well.  We will explore the soy sector first.

 

The Argentine soy market is presently growing tremendously and should continue this trait for at least the next five years.  Within the soy market, there are two possibilities for investment.  Harvested soybeans are thriving in the commodity market. These harvested soybeans are exported in forms such as oil. The raw soy is processed at a plant or factory in the importing nation.  The benefit to this type of investment is a quick return that involves small risk because of the likely impending continued growth of the soy market over years to come.  One draw back to this plan however, is the high taxation of the raw soy product by the government.  This results in the loss of opportunity of reaching maximum profit.

 

This leads to the next possible plan for investment in the soy market.  The processed version of soy that is exported from Argentina is taxed at a much lower rate than its raw counterpart because it requires some industrialization with the country. The lower tax makes this plan for investment more appealing but it will require more time for desired return than simply exporting raw soy.  It also requires some level of capital investment for refining and processing soy into various goods for export, such as soy oil, that can be used in a range of other products.  Processed soy possesses a certain level of desirability on the world market for these various products.  This gives rise to a possible new booming industry within Argentina.

 

The other major leader commodity in Argentina that is doing equally well on the world market is the meat market.  Like soy, meat has the potential for continued growth over the coming years.  It also shares the associated risks and benefits as soy. 

 

As is true with all commodities, there are waves of growth and falls, peaks and troughs.  This natural tendency of any commodity makes long-term investment appealing for different reasons.

 

Long-term investments require more investment and expenditures in capital and have a longer period for return.  These types of investments are made in the industrial sector of the economy and are not recommended for commodities for the reasons stated above.  In Argentina, these industrialized portions of the economy are growing at a slower rate than commodities and therefore, must be chosen carefully for investment.  However, given this nature of Argentine economics and industries there exist risks that must be understood in order to be successful.

 

Information technology for computer assistance via call centers is one possible long-term investment that is proving to be very profitable for one company.  IBM opened a call center in Cordoba, Argentina that has been prospering and expanding its staff to catch up with its notable growth since it started its operations in the country.  This is one such industry that could be mimicked by other computer companies for opening call and innovation centers where staff can handle the needs of customers in their native language.

 

Tourism is another sector of the economy that is growing very well.  This part of the Argentine economy is expanding and is ripe for potential investment.  A large part of this investment could be made in marketing the many tourist aspects of the country.  This includes popular locations like Patagonia, Cordoba, Mendoza and, of course, Buenos Aires.  Also, many other large sectors of the society such as the wine industry and vineyards could serve a dual purpose of profit for their products and tourism appeal.

 

The same principle of using marketing for expanding the base of the economy of a particular sector, an investor could apply this the Argentine leather industry. There is a high risk in leather investment due to the amount of marketing and publicizing necessary for creating a successful world market.  Possible points of investment in the marketing of Argentina’s leather could include tying these products to a specific and influential world designer such as Chanel or Versace.  Also, through a strategic marketing campaign, the popularity and aura of Argentine leather could be created and expanded by popular brand names that are indigenous to Argentina.

 

Again, these long-term investments require an increased time for expected return.  For any of these or other industries an initial return should not be expected but, rather an investment over the next decade or more. 

 

Investors would be urged to avoid investing in commodities for the long-term due to their boom-bust cycles.  Also, investments in any electronic industry should not be made because Asia and many other technologically advanced countries already have a hold on this market.  This makes entry into this sector highly risky with enormous costs that will likely fail.

 

These are the options for investment in the various sectors and industries in Argentina.  We have taken into account the growth of the country’s economy since 2003 and the potential for growth over the years to come.  Investors must decide which route of investment they wish to make, as well as, the rate of return they desire before making in decisions.  We would also like to reiterate the fact that investors should stray from investing in the sectors and industries that were explained earlier.

 

 

(Group:  Hannah, JB & Ryan)

            Argentina is a dynamic country that has endured much political upheaval and turmoil. It has survived 7 coup d’etats and several attempts for political upheavals. Nevertheless, Argentina has made numerous reforms to have the sustainable government that it has today. There are many positive and admirable aspects to the Argentine system. There is always a high voter turnout, with 2/3 of the country being registered, and the elections of recent years have been fair and just. However due to the “kinks” and other qualms of the current government system, we propose that a parliamentary system would be more beneficial to Argentina.

            The current government is a result of the 1994 reform. Instead of having an electoral college, the President is elected by a popular vote. He/She must receive 45% of the votes or will move on to a run-off second round. The presidential term also is 4 years instead of 6 as before the 1994 reform. The National Congress is bicameral and consists of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate has 72 seats that are divided among all the Argentine provinces. Each senator serves 6 years and is directly elected. The Chamber of Deputies consists of 257 seats that are proportionally represented by the population of each province/district. Each Deputy serves 4 years. There is also a judiciary cabinet that consists of justices that the President appoints. This governmental system has been somewhat “worked,” but it is not without its problems. One of the biggest problems facing Argentine government is the factions and splits among same political parties. For example, there are Peronists on either side of the political spectrum. This lack of unity holds true with many political parties. Hence, it is very hard for things to progress when cooperation is so scarce. This along with the numerous coups of the past century has made many citizens feel as though the government is not sufficient or credible. Many people feel as though the government is not an accurate representation of Argentina and its inhabitants. Another problem Argentina faces is that each President seems to be very radical and wants to wipe out the policies of the previous president. There exists little to no continuity with each administration. Consequently, such factors as the economy are greatly affected and cause conflicts both domestically and internationally.

            After much research and talking to a few Argentines, we believe a Parliament and Prime Minister would best suit Argentina and its citizens. Under the Parliamentary system, there would be many added benefits, and it would address the above mentioned problems with the current government. First, a parliamentary system would be an incentive for the political parties to cooperate together. This would force members of the same party who are on different sides of the political spectrum to come together and form coalitions and/or alliances. A parliamentary system would also force parties to define themselves more in order to stand out from the rest of the parties. Each party would work hard to be the most definitive and gain the most popularity with each province/districts. This popularity would result in more seats for the party in the Chamber of Deputies. This is on account that under a proportional system, the number of votes equals the number of seats. The parliamentary system also allows for smaller parties to at least have a say because they can earn seats in the Chamber. This new system would also help address the “lame duck” problem with 2nd term presidents, the tendency of reelected presidents to get lazy during their 2nd stay in office. Under a parliamentary system, the Prime Minister can be removed with a vote of no confidence at any time. Consequently, this forces him/her to always be “on their toes” and on top of the game. This also helps reduce the potential for coups or unconstitutional takeovers of the government because the population and its opinions are more thoroughly represented and voiced with the parliamentary system; it has more checks and balances than the current system.

            As with any changing of government, a switch to a Parliamentary system would not be without challenges. The first, foremost, and most difficult challenge would be to convince the Argentine people that this is what is in their best interests. One of the problems with the current government mentioned above is that the citizens of the country do not trust their government, and that they feel a sense of disconnectedness and apathy towards the federal decisions made. A parliament would do much to quell this feeling, but only if implemented in the correct fashion. The people must have the final say in the decision to transition. If not, it would seriously cripple the ability of the new system to solve the problems aforementioned that it was designed to fix.  Argentines would have to vote on the new system and feel that they have genuine and real input in the making of this decision.  Once this hurtle was overcome, there would still be the challenge of implementing a new system of government. Not an easy task. Inevitably there would be “kinks” and unforeseen bumps in the road as with the starting of any new system.

            Despite the potential problems and hurtles to overcome, we believe the benefits of a parliament far outweigh the costs. The Prime Minister would be kept in check by the threat of quite easily being removed from office. He/She would be forced to listen more to the people he/she would be governing. Stronger, more defined political parties would emerge that would have to be more in tune with public opinion in order to hold seats in Parliament. This in turn would give the citizens of Argentina more say in the decisions of their government, something they feel is currently lacking. With an increased voice comes an increased sense of ownership, and with an increased sense of ownership comes a feeling of faith and trust again, something hard to come by under the current system. When people have more trust in their government there is the huge benefit of people also having more faith in their economy. Political contentment brings increased economic trust and participation, something that has been a problem in the country for over a century. Though switching to a new Parliamentary government would definitely be quite a mountain to climb, we feel it is the best course of action for the betterment of the future of Argentina and its people.

 

1,237 km (769 miles) traveled
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Florianopolis
photo by: Vagabondatheart